Tough new conditions for concerts in Iran capital

President Rouhani criticised the cultural minister for caving into conservative demands. Photograph:( Getty )

WION Tehran, Iran Aug 27, 2016, 10.58 AM (IST)
Live music is already banned in Iran’s second city, Mashhad, and now the Tehran prosecutor has recommended strict new rules for concerts in Iran’s capital city.

According to the judiciary’s official Mizan news agency, prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said, “Police should record all events, while the culture ministry and the provincial governor should take greater responsibility for the content of performances and the behaviour of audiences.”

The order comes amid a wave of last-minute cancellations of concerts in Iran, under pressure from hardliners and religious leaders, and has been criticised by the more liberal President Hassan Rouhani.

Conservative judicial officials say less than 1  per cent of musicians have been affected by the cancellations and critics say Rouhani is exaggerating the issue to divert attention from his government’s poor economic record.

The issue has taken on renewed significance with President Rouhani seeking re-election in less than a year.

Conservatives believe concerts and events like these spread Western immorality.

A row erupted earlier this month when a prayer leader in Mashhad, a Shiite pilgrimage site as well as Iran’s second city, called for concert-goers to be banned. 

Although no concerts have been held in Mashhad for 11 years, culture minister Ali Jannati agreed to the ban.

President Rouhani criticised him for caving-in to conservative demands.

"As far as I am concerned, no minister should give in to any pressure," Rouhani said this week.
"We have the Islamic parliament. If a law is going to be adopted, lawmakers will pass it."

On Thursday, a letter signed by 5,000 in Iran’s music industry was published in the reformist press, describing the ban on concerts in Mashhad as a "catastrophe that sacrifices music today, and the rest of the culture and the reputation of this country tomorrow."

Musicians have also faced pressure from unofficial groups. 

One of Iran’s most famous classical singers, Shahram Nazeri, almost had to cancel a concert with his son, Hafez, in the religious city of Yazd last week.
(WION with inputs from agencies)
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